The contestants of the Black Excellence Competition (left to right: Valencia Owens, Kieran Verduzco, Urijah Jaushlin, Sinnette Wafer, Kennedy Jones, and Esther Kipkoech). Photo sent in by Ayeisha Martinez.
Every year the Eastern New Mexico University’s African American Affairs organization hosts a contest to determine who will represent them as their king or queen.
Every multicultural affairs organization has a person represent them in terms of a royal. The African American Affairs organization hosted their event on Thursday Feb. 27 in the greyhound lounge. This event consisted of six contestants who would present or perform on stage to be “professionally judged on their creativity and originality representing black excellence and culture, heritage, and ancestry,” said host of that evening Ayeisha Martinez. Each contestant was judged based on three categories: the introduction phase, the talent potion and public speaking.
Each student showed what black excellence meant to them by expressing themselves through poems, monologues, short videos and music. The first student to present was Kennedy Jones. She wrote and produced a short film called “Can I Touch It.” This short film was filled with poetry that touched on her experience of growing up in a place of little diversity in Freemont, Nebraska. Another student who presented poetry was sophomore Esther Kipkoech who is majoring in forensic science. She wrote a poem describing herself and how her heritage is beautiful. She used her poem as an outlet to describe what black excellence means to her.
ENMU student Urijah Jaushlin stood out by performing an original song. He stated in his introductory that his song was about his thoughts on how he feels about society and where he came from. His song touched on issues in society and how they need to change.
Another form of expression that was used was monologue. Kieran Verduzco who is a theater major and a film minor prepared a speech that described his experiences. Verduzco described what black excellence meant to him, “to represent not only my heritage, but also the African American students here at eastern and the population of African American’s here in Portales.”
Valencia Owens who is a sophomore at ENMU and a double major in sociology and psychology and a minor in criminal justice wrote and performed an original monologue about herself and experiences. “One thing I always think about is what is the first thing people notice about me? Is it my smile? My eyes? Maybe it’s my voice…the first thing people notice about me is the color of my skin.” In her monologue she shared that she is not only black, but she is white and hispanic. She talked about how being labeled into subgroups is not right and how people need to accept each other no matter their skin tone.
The next student to present was Sinnette Wafer who is majoring in criminal justice. She also wrote a speech about her feelings and thoughts of black excellence with a poetic style. She incorporated facts of history with her own opinion that described what her heritage meant to her. “History to me sounds beautiful, it sounds handsome, it sounds black, it sounds white, it sounds like any other race in between, because history to me sounds like you and me.” After the scores were tallied up, Wafer ended up with the highest score which named her the royal of African American Affairs.
An audience member, Ingrid Reyes, mentioned that her favorite part about the event was how after each performance each contestant was asked a question. She enjoyed how everyone had their own stories to tell and the impact that they had made.
Sinnette Wafer being crowed the Black excellence Queen.